by Jamie Givens
As my time in India comes to an end, I have realized the best way to measure how much my host family loves me is by how much food they try to (and most times, successfully) pile on my plate.
Before we were placed with our host families we were warned by Global Citizen Year India staff that we would be faced with a challenge. The challenge of having to say no to the massive amounts of food that our host families would attempt to put onto our plates. We were told that it’s a “cultural thing,” but after spending 7 months with my host family I have determined that it is based on how much they care about me. My theory was confirmed twice in a week when I went to have lunch and dinner with my extended host family.
The first incident happened when I went to visit my host Mom’s mother’s house, which is also where both her brother and sister and all of their children live. I had thought that I just came in to say hi and check on my host mom but I was clearly wrong. They brought me cake, soda, egg puffs, and even prepared dinner and dessert. My host Grandma made a comment that she felt like crying when she found out that I was leaving so soon. During that dinner, she served me and she served me lots.
The second incident occurred when I went to visit my host Dad’s brother’s house. We had gone to have dinner so this time I was expecting to eat, but I was expecting to evade the extra offerings of food. I think I expected this prematurely, as I hadn’t told them that I was leaving in two weeks yet. Once I told them, my host Aunt caressed my face and began to serve me food. Within that dinner, she served me 3 separate servings and they weren’t small either!
I thought that I had mastered the way to get around accepting more food. It usually entailed putting my hand on my stomach and saying “I’m full! I’m full” or putting my hand up and saying “No, I’m good, I’m good”. Sometimes when I was really trying to resist I would pull out the big, Hindi guns and say “bass,” (pronounced bus) which means enough, but none of these methods worked in either of these situations.
This is where the more food, the more I’m loved theory comes in. None of these expert avoidance tactics worked because the amount of food they serve me is a testament of how much they have grown to love me, and I don’t think anything could get in the way of that. I am so grateful to have been a part of a family that tries to feed me to my hearts content and my stomachs extent.
So, if you are ever in a similar position, try not to focus on the loss of the battle but on the love your family has for you.